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Light Traveling

November 10, 2010
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I’ve been quiet for a while but I was just catching my breath.  We headed up to San Francisco this weekend for a dear friend’s wedding and returned on Sunday

I left my heart in San Francisco sculpture and the Bay Bridge

evening.  I’ve yet to adjust to the time change completely but I’m giving it my best.  More importantly, Gus is having some trouble with the adjustment and I maintain that 4:30am is way too early to be up.

But all that doesn’t matter.  What I want to write about is how lightly we traveled this weekend and how great it was. 

Some backstory: I had originally wanted to leave Gus with my mother (who lives about halfway between here and SF) for the night, but Masa nixed that idea, saying we would be too far away for his comfort level.  Fine. So we decided to bring my mother and step-father up with us!  Then, as it turns out, Masa’s parents were in town that weekend too (waaayyy too long of a story to include, but yeah. they were there) so we had TWO sets of grandparents there to help.  That being said, though, I really think we could have pulled this off just fine on our own.

This is what we brought with us to San Francisco this weekend

We packed in one 20L Deuter backpack and the diaper bag (which is also a backpack.)  We wore our finery on the plane that morning, which was interesting, so that we wouldn’t have to bring a garment bag for Masa’s suit and so my dress would not be (as) wrinkled.  That worked out pretty well.  But no way was I going to wear 3-inch heels while wrangling a toddler on a plane.  I had on my BR faux wrap dress and my old beat up running shoes. I was quite the fashion plate.

The way we’ve begun doing the airport thing is for Masa to drop me off with baby, luggage, and stroller (maclaren volo). I check in (since I can’t do it online with a lap-child) and check the bag (for sake of ease) and get the two of us and all the liquids through security. Meanwhile, Masa parks the car, whizzes through security with no carry on items, and meets us at the gate.  Easy peasy.

Our sippy cup of water did not turn out to be hydrogen peroxide this time, thank goodness, but they always gawk over the baby food in a pouch.  Like it’s the most AMAAAAAZING thing EVER.  it’s hilarious.  We got through security and, as usual, they had to run the diaper bag twice. no idea why, but they always seem to run it twice.  Other than that no big hiccups.

Getting through SFO with the stroller was pretty easy and we found the airtrain to the BART just fine.  Our hotel was (purposely) located near a BART station so we got off and found our way to the hotel with relative ease.  Our room wasn’t ready so we hit up the market at the Ferry Building and had some lunch with the in-laws.  Once we got back, our room was all set up with the crib and everything, which was great. 

We managed our whole weekend in SF with only two backpacks and a stroller. No car seat, because we were able to take transit everywhere, and no crib.  It was

Gus napping peacefully in his hotel-issue porta-crib

great.  This is how I like to travel!  And it’s totally possible.   Here are some tips to help you lighten your load a bit:

1. If you’re going for a longer trip, the front desk is a wealth of information, ask them where a laundromat is!  With kids, there’s usually some sort of down time while they nap or just chill.  Run down and wash those jeans and underwears.  no need to bring a different outfit for every day!

2. Go places with great public transit and get comfortable with using it.  Not having the carseat along made life SOOO much easier!  And in SF, we almost always put our car in (very expensive) parking at the hotel and never touch it again until we’re ready to go.  Bonus: Gus was SO excited every time we got to go on a bus or a “choo choo!” it was great!

3. Invest in backpacks.  Rolly-bags are wonderful things and certainly have their place. We have two. But traipsing around on city streets from a transit stop to your hotel is not an ideal situation for a rolly-bag.  A decent backpack, one that distributes your weight properly so you can carry more without hurting yourself, is so great to have for trips like this.  Plus it leaves arms free for when your toddler plays the “Mama!”, “No! Dada!”, “No! Mama!” game and you’re just too tired to fight it, and OMG have you ever tried dragging a rolly-bag and pushing a stroller at the same time?  I have. FAIL. Same goes for the diaper bag:  We had a messenger bag but now we’ve pretty much completely switched over to a Gregory daypack.

4. Use the hotel’s crib.  Unless you’re staying somewhere really seedy or if (heaven forbid) they don’t have one.  But almost all hotels do.  Call ahead and let them know and they’ll usually have it set up for you when you check in.  If it seems weird to put your baby in someone else’s crib just remember that you’re sleeping in someone else’s bed too.  And if you’re anything like me, come 2:30am? so is your baby.  But in my opinion, lugging the Pack’n’Play when you don’t have to is plain crazy.

My mule! Masa carrying all the bags.

5. Finally, and I mentioned this one in the previous travel post but it bears repeating, don’t bring a whole bunch of diapers! If you’re going somewhere with an airport and public transit and hotels? Chances are they’re going to also have stores that sell diapers.  Bring enough for 24 hours and then buy a pack when you get there. 

So there you have it.  A whirlwind tour through my whirlwind trip and a few tips for doing it yourselves.  I’m a bit traveled out at the moment since we’ve been away like two weekends a month since I can remember. I’m looking forward to a local Thanksgiving holiday weekend before the big trip to the Great White North in a December.  I’ll definitely keep you all posted on that! 

Till then, what are your tips and tricks for making travel easier on your family and your sanity?  Please share!!

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